MSNBC's Wolffe: Ted Cruz 'Inflaming' 'Fringe' Who Are 'Racist'

On Tuesday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe accused Texas Senator Ted Cruz of "encouraging, inflaming and yes, flirting" with "fringe elements" who are "very ugly" and "racist" as he responded to a clip of the Texas Republican suggesting that the House could have grounds to impeach President Obama.

Host Al Sharpton set up the segment by recounting birther conspiracy theories against the President before moving to a completely unrelated clip of Senator Cruz, and then brought aboard wolffe for comment. Wolffe griped:

Ted Cruz has flirted with these fringe elements all the way through, and the fact that he cannot rule out what would be an egregious overreach by the United States Congress is exactly why his Republican colleagues dislike what he's doing so much. It's not thought through. It's just pandering to the fringe elements of the Republican Party. Maybe he thinks that's going to fuel some part of a Tea Party-driven candidacy for President. But he's not going to get much support in terms of the broader party.

He added:

And if he wants to break out of Iowa on his, you know, path to the nomination, then he's going to find it very, very hard indeed. So I do think he is encouraging, inflaming and yes, flirting with those elements of the Republican Party. They are very ugly and, let's face it, also racist. That's not the majority of the Republican Party, but it is the fringe.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, November 19, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

LARRY KLAYMAN, FREEDOM WATCH: We demand that this President leave town, to get out, to put the Koran, to put the Koran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come up with his hands out.

AL SHARPTON: That was right-wing activist Larry Klayman last month making one of the ugliest attacks we've ever heard about the President. Today Klayman and his Tea Party cronies were back outside the White House just steps away from the home of the first family. And the Web site Right Wing Watch caught what they said.

KLAYMAN: We don't want to return to the days of 1776 when we had to rise up, when we had King George III, who was far less worse than Barack Hussein Obama.

JOSEPH FARAH, WORLD NET DAILY: We've heard the litany of high crimes and misdemeanors perpetrated by the occupant of the White House.

RICHARD MACK, FORMER ARIZONA SHERIFF: The birth certificate released by Mr. Obama and the White house is a fake, is a fraud and a lie.

KLAYMAN: Our socialist President or a President who favors Muslim interests over American interests in the Middle East.

SHARPTON: But it wasn't just Klayman and his buddies cracking birther jokes and calling the President a socialist. They even rolled out a George Washington impersonator to call for removing President Obama from office.

UNIDENTIFIED GEORGE WASHINGTON IMPERSONATOR CLIP #1: Mr. Obama has engaged through his despotic tenure as President in rule by edict and by executive decree.

UNIDENTIFIED WASHINGTON IMPERSONATOR #2: We therefore demand that this criminal, treasonous individual be removed from office without delay and held accountable.

UNIDENTIFIED WASHINGTON IMPERSONATOR #3: All his acts as President be considered of no effect or validity.

SHARPTON: Wow, if George Washington says it, I guess it must be true. Folks, we shouldn't have to take this stuff seriously. But it's not that different from what Senator "Shutdown" Ted Cruz has been saying about the President.

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): We have never seen a President behave like President Obama who believes he can just pick and choose. He'll enforce this law, not enforce another law. I mean, that is-

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Impeachable?

CRUZ: -deeply dangerous. You know, that's a question for the House, ultimately.

SHARPTON: Impeachment is a question for the House? Way to dodge the question. Here's the follow-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Would you urge them to consider it?

CRUZ: You know, any impeachment would have to be tried in the United States Senate. And so, since my responsibility would be to render judgment, I would not want to urge the House to do anything other than exercise its best judgment, and then I would endeavor to do the same.

SHARPTON: We're supposed to trust the good judgement of Ted Cruz and the House Republicans. I don't think so. And when Republicans are using the same talking points as a guy wearing a tri-corner hat, they're just as lame as that lame George Washington impersonator. ... Richard, would Senator Cruz be more at home at that Tea Party rally with George Washington than in the U.S. Senate?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, let me just say I think your Abe Lincoln impersonator was better than the George Washington guy. Ted Cruz has flirted with these fringe elements all the way through, and the fact that he cannot rule out what would be an egregious overreach by the United States Congress is exactly why his Republican colleagues dislike what he's doing so much. It's not thought through. It's just pandering to the fringe elements of the Republican Party. Maybe he thinks that's going to fuel some part of a Tea Party-driven candidacy for President. But he's not going to get much support in terms of the broader party.

And if he wants to break out of Iowa on his, you know, path to the nomination, then he's going to find it very, very hard indeed. So I do think he is encouraging, inflaming and yes, flirting with those elements of the Republican Party. They are very ugly and, let's face it, also racist. That's not the majority of the Republican Party, but it is the fringe.

--Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wilmouth on Twitter.